Ponyo – Review

Ponyo is a 2008 Japanese animated fantasy comedy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli and centers around the story of a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends Sōsuke, a five-year-old human boy, and dreams to become a girl. Under a new deal between Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, Ponyo is being re-issued on Blu-Ray and DVD starting October 17th.

Ponyo is profoundly influenced by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid tale, and that can be seen throughout the film. The film follows the story of Brunhilde a goldfish who lives underwater with her father, Fujimoto, a once-human wizard and scientist, and numerous smaller sisters. When she goes out on an outing with them, Brunhilde decides to go on a jellyfish’s back and sneak off. But when she gets caught in a fishing trawler, she drifts to the shore in a glass jar. Rescued by Sōsuke, a five years old human boy, who smashes the jar with a rock a fantastic adventure starts for them.

Sōsuke renames her Ponyo after she licks his finger and heals the wound that he had acquired when he smashed the jar to save her. But when her father recalls her to him, Ponyo argues that she doesn’t want to go by her birth name and that she now wants to be a human. And then starts her journey to becoming a human, something possible because of the blood from Sōsuke that she ingested when she healed him. She leaves again and goes back to Sōsuke, but the amount of magic that she used to become human created an imbalance that causes a tsunami and leaves ships stranded.

Over the course of the movie, Sōsuke and Ponyo embark on an adventure to go and try to rescue Lisa who has become stranded because of the Tsunami. But Ponyo uses too much of her magic to be able to get them to Lisa and goes back to her fish form. It’s only after Sōsuke accepts to love Ponyo however she is and Ponyo agreeing to give up her magic that she restore the balance and becomes human forever.

This is a story of acceptance and love. It is also a story about letting go as well. This might be Miyazaki’s most experimental movie, but it is also one of it’s most positive. On the first watch I didn’t really know what to think about the film, but after rewatching it, this is the movie we need right now in the world we live in. It is magical, comedic and positive and makes you hopeful that everyone has a little bit of good in them. The style of anime is different then what we are used to for Miyazaki, but it works so well because of the story and that it is supposed to be more “childish” and I don’t mean that in a wrong way. It works so well and it transports you in the story and makes you appreciate how much work was put in to create the underwater universe where this movie partly takes place in.

The film is dubbed by an all-star cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White, it is Noah Cyrus as Ponyo and Frankie Jones as Sōsuke that gives this movie a lot of its emotion and life. The movie runs for an hour and forty-three movie and is the fourth highest-grossing anime film of all time. The re-issue of the version of the movie also includes over 5 hours of Bonus Feature.

Using the classic picture that we have all come to know of Ponyo, the poster that was first used when the movie was released in 2008. But what I really love about this re-issue is the art on the two disk and an exclusive booklet that is inside. It captures everything that the movie is, it’s colorful and full of life just like the movie. The booklet includes a small word from Producer Toshio Suzuki about the relationships in the movie and how it connects to Miyazaki, a statement from Miyazaki himself and, my personal favorite, lyrics to two songs that are featured in the movie.

The extensive bonus features on the DVD/Blu Ray package is enough for me to recommend to you to buy this new re-issue. With more than five hours of bonus content, including (in part) Feature-Length storyboards, Interviews with Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki, Theme Song Music Video and behind the scenes on how Ponyo was created, it is enough to satisfy those who like to go beyond just watching the movie.

To conclude, I would recommend this version of the movie. It is highly entertaining as a movie on its own, but it is also very rentable in term of what you get with all the extensive bonus feature that is on the disks.


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